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Four indicted in Green Acre boarding deaths

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The owners of Green Acre Dog Boarding and two caretakers, including the son of a senator, were indicted yesterday on animal cruelty charges in connection with the deaths of more than 20 dogs at the kennel in Gilbert.

Owners Jesse Todd Hughes and his wife, Maleisa Hughes, were indicted by a Maricopa County grand jury on 22 felony counts and seven misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals, and one felony count of fraudulent schemes and artifices, according to County Attorney Bill Montgomery’s office.

The two caretakers in charge of the kennel while the owners were on vacation in June — Logan Flake, the Hughes’ daughter, and her husband, Austin Flake — were indicted on 21 felony counts and seven misdemeanor counts of cruelty to animals.

Austin is the son of U.S Sen. Jeff Flake,R-Ariz. All four defendants are scheduled to be arraigned Oct. 23, the Arizona Republic reported.

The indictments came after more than four months of investigation by the Maricopa County Sheriff’s offie, which learned early on that 28 dogs at the kennel had spent the night in one 9-foot-by-12-foot room.

Some customers arriving to pick up their dogs were told their pets had run away, when in fact they had died.

“How would you like your dog stuffed in a small room? Twenty-eight dogs,” Sheriff Joe Arpaio said Wednesday night. “Think about that. I feel sorry for the owners. … This has been one of the toughest cases we have worked. We had over 17 people work this case, between the posse, other volunteers, our deputies.”

The Hughes told investigators that a dog had apparently chewed through a wire, cutting off  the air-conditioning in the single room they were being kept in, but the air conditioning was found to be functioning.

A spokesman for the county attorney’s office said the charges stem from the deaths of 21 dogs and the injury of four others at the kennel.

“We have to prove how each of those dogs died,” said Jerry Cobb. “They basically suffocated. They were in a tight room without enough air.”

One of the dogs escaped from the kennel and was found on the side of a Gilbert road weeks later, hit by a car.

Dennis Wilenchik, an attorney for the Flakes, said he will file a motion to dismiss the case or remand it back to the grand jury. “They’re innocent,” he said. “They will be proven innocent. There is no evidence to convict them of any felony charge.”

(Photo: Green Acre client Valerie Collins looks under a blanket where her two dogs lie; by D.S. Woodfill / The Republic)

Blood of a dog helps save a cat

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Buttercup can thank dog for being alive.

The Key West cat received a blood transfusion from a dog last month — not an unknown procedure, but a pretty rare one.

It’s called xenotransfusion, and according to the U.S. National Library of Medicine only 62 cats have been known to undergo the procedure.

On Sept. 16, Dr. Sean Perry from the Marathon Veterinary Hospital pumped the blood of a greyhound into an orange tabby, in hopes of increasing the cat’s red blood cell count.

Veterinarians decided to use dog blood they had on hand after learning that suitable cat blood could take weeks to receive.

“It’s a situation where you can’t give type A blood to a type B blood cat because it’ll cause a severe immune reaction,” Perry said. “It was actually safer to give the cat dog’s blood.”

Buttercup’s owner, Ernie Saunders, brought the cat to the vet after it became lethargic,  ABC reported.

After a few tests, veterinarians learned Buttercup’s red blood cell count was down to 7 percent. Cats should have a red blood cell count of at least 35 percent, Perry said.

“Cat’s blood is a little harder to come by and not as available as dog’s blood,” Perry said. “We had greyhound blood packs that we get from a blood bank that has red blood cells separated from plasma. Buttercup showed no signs of rejection during the transfusion.”

Perry said as far as veterinarians know, cats are the only animal that accept transfused blood from dogs, and that after it is done once it can’t be done again.

Since the procedure, Saunders said Buttercup has been more active.

In addition to learning about xenotransfusion, Saunders learned something else from the vet visit.

Buttercup, who he thought was a female, is a male.

Authorities in Spain destroy dog that belonged to Ebola-infected nurse

excalibur

Excalibur, a 12-year-old dog who belonged to an Ebola-infected nurse in Madrid, was destroyed Wednesday, despite uncertainties over whether he had the virus, and whether dogs can transmit it.

The nurse’s husband pleaded with authorities to spare the dog, and protesters and animal rights activists surrounded the couple’s home in opposition to the decision to put the dog down.

Some chanted, “Assassins!” and scuffled with police.

Madrid’s regional health agency said in a statement that  Excalibur’s corpse was “put into a sealed biosecurity device and transferred for incineration at an authorized disposal facility.”

In the United States, a spokesman for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Wednesday that studies had shown that dogs can have an immune response to Ebola, meaning that they can become infected.

But there have been no reports of dogs or cats developing Ebola symptoms or passing the disease to other animals or to people, he added.

Spokesman Thomas Skinner told the New York Times that the centers were recommending that Ebola patients with dogs or cats at home “evaluate the animal’s risk of exposure” — how likely it is that the animal has ingested bodily fluids like blood, vomit and feces from the patient.

Skinner said the CDC was working with the American Veterinary Medical Association to develop guidelines for the pets of Ebola victims in the United States.

ramosThe nurse’s husband had pleaded publicly with officials in Madrid to spare the dog. He told the Spanish newspaper El Mundo that there was no indication that Excalibur had been infected with Ebola. The nurse, identified as María Teresa Romero Ramo, was the first person to become infected outside West Africa.

She was diagnosed on Monday with the virus, believed to have been contracted when she treated a victim who came from Sierra Leone.

More than 390,000 people signed an online petition to save the dog’s life — more than twice the number of people who have signed a petition urging the Food and Drug Administration to fast-track research on a potential vaccine and treatment for Ebola.

Nearly 4,000 people in West Africa have died during the current Ebola epidemic. The only case diagnosed in the United States has been that of a Liberian man who had traveled to Dallas. He died Wednesday.

In a 2005 study of dogs in Gabon after an Ebola outbreak in 2001-02, researchers found that dogs can be infected with the virus, but that they show no symptoms.

(Top photo by  Andres Kudacki / AP; photo of Ramos and Excalibur from Reuters)

Dog found alive after her memorial service

graciejpeg-a13cc342cc44b832When a Labradoodle fell off the side of a 200-foot cliff in Oregon’s Columbia River Gorge, members of the group she was hiking with all presumed she had died — and held a memorial service right there on the spot.

But Gracie, amazingly, was still alive.

And a rescue team hoisted her to safety.

The dog’s owner, Michelle Simmons, says her Labradoodle was part of a large hiking group. Gracie and another dog were playing on a trail when Gracie went over the side of the cliff.

Her horrified family held a memorial service for the pooch on the cliff.

Afterwards, another hiker heard the dog, contacted authorities, and the Oregon Humane Society sent a 10-person rescue team to the site, on Eagle Creek trail, near Punchbowl Falls.

Bruce Wyse, a member of the team, was lowered down the 200-foot cliff and fitted Gracie with a rescue harness. Team members then hoisted Gracie and Wyse back up the cliff.

She was in fairly good shape, having suffered only bruises and scratches, the Oregonian reported.

The rescue team’s leader., Rene Pizzo, said the incident should be a reminder to other pet owners who hike with their animals to keep their dogs on leashes.

“We strongly urge dog owners to keep their pets on leash all the time in areas such as the Columbia Gorge,” Pizzo said. “Your dog’s leash can save your pet’s life.”

(Photo: Oregon Humane Society)

Lazarus: The dog who couldn’t be put down

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Three weeks after he was surrendered by his owners, an unwanted four-year-old mixed breed dog received what was supposed to be a lethal injection.

An animal control worker at the Ozark City Animal Shelter in Alabama watched as a contract veterinarian inserted the needle. The dog became still and quiet, and was presumed dead when everyone went home for the night.

When the time came, the next morning, to remove his body from the pen he was left in, the dog was up and about, had moved to an outdoor pen and, while a little wobbly, had helped himself to some water.

“He was back up and breathing and going right about business like it’s nothing,” said Ozark police Capt. Bobby Blankenship, who supervises the city shelter.

The police captain’s daughter, who works as a volunteer at the shelter, explained it this way: “His body overcame and he had a will to live,” said Cortney Blankenship, “and somehow, someway he made it through.”

The dog arrived at the shelter on Aug. 19 after being dropped off by his owner, who Blankenship said was moving and could no longer care for him. The animal was cut and bloody after being struck by a car and a pad on its left rear foot was missing.

Blankenship tried to find an adoptive home or rescue group that wanted him, but when no one stepped forward, the lethal injection was carried out on Sept. 10.

Shelter staff don’t know what kept the dog from dying, and they declined to release the name of the veterinarian who performed the injection, according to an Associated Press report.

Possibly an improper dosage was used, or the needle missed the vein.

In any event, the dog — since named Lazarus — recovered, and found a home after Cortney Blankenship posted the story of his survival on Facebook.

Lazarus was picked up from the shelter by Two by Two Animal Rescue, and later delivered to Jane Holston who lives in a suburb of Birmingham suburb.

He has heartworms, and one leg is in a cast from the car accident, but Lazarus is over the effects of his lethal injection.

“He’s not skittish, he’s not afraid of anything, anybody, any sounds. I mean, it’s just amazing what all he has been through,” Holston said.

(Photo: Lazarus, with his new owner, Jane Holston, in Helena, Ala.; by Jay Reeves / Associated Press)

Is artwork an attack on pit bulls?

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Whether it’s art, propaganda, or a combination of the two, a memorial to victims of fatal dog attacks is creating controversy as one of dozens of entries in a public art display in downtown Grand Rapids, Michigan.

The work  is called ”Out of the Blue,” a reference to how dog attacks — and particularly pit bull attacks, the artist repeatedly points out — usually happen.

outofblue2The display, created by a woman identifying herself as Joan Marie Kowal, consists of more than 30 decorated crosses, representing the number of people killed in dog attacks this year, and images of the victims, many of them children.

The artwork is rubbing some dog lovers, and particularly pit bull lovers, the wrong way, which has led to some demonstrations and the kind of heated, everybody’s an expert debate that follows pit bulls around wherever they go.

Joan Marie Kowal, we suspect, has more experience in badmouthing pit bulls than she does in creating art, but then again artists don’t need credentials in this competition.

Every year, for 19 days, three square miles of downtown Grand Rapids is opened up to artists in ArtPrize, a competition that awards $200,000 to the grand prize winner.

Downtown becomes “an open playing field where anyone can find a voice in the conversation about what is art and why it matters,” according to the  ArtPrize  website. ”Art from around the world pops up in every inch of downtown … It’s unorthodox, highly disruptive, and undeniably intriguing to the art world and the public alike.”

This year, “Out of the Blue” has proved among the most disruptive.

A week ago, perturbed pit bull owners brought their dogs to Calder Plaza, where the entry is displayed, in hopes of presenting their views and showing that pit bulls — the breed most often mentioned in the memorial — aren’t vicious killing machines.

When they sat down in front of the memorial, Kowal complained they were obstructing the public’s view.

Kowal told MLIVE.com in an email that “visitors can’t even see the art and many have told me the bully breed owners, sitting on the ledges blocking the view of the victims’ biographies and refusing to move, makes them unable to enjoy the piece.”

Grand Rapids Police Lt. Pat Dean said Kowal filed a complaint in late September about people sitting with pit bulls on the stone wall in front of her ArtPrize entry. Police found nothing illegal at that time, he said, and members of the group, while on public property, moved at the request of officers.

Kowal describes the work as “an opportunity to Pay it Forward, and show the good side of humanity. Visitors are encouraged to express their sympathy, respect, and support for the victims and their families by leaving teddy bears, flowers, or memorial decorations in the designated heart-shaped memorial space.”

According to a brief biography listed on the ArtPrize website,  Kowal is an animal lover, who has feral cats and pet squirrels. She attended Grand Valley State University.

Not a whole lot can be learned about her through searching her name on the Internet, and there’s no mention of any previous artistic pursuits.

There was a 2011 MLIVE.com article that mentioned her name, and quoted her as being a supporter of a proposed pit bull ban in Wyoming, Michigan.

Perhaps she became an artist “out of the blue.” Perhaps her anti-pit bull passion needed an outlet.

We support the right for just about anyone to call themselves an artist, assuming they are making some form of art. We don’t have a problem with Kowal expressing herself — either vocally or through her “art” — on the streets of Grand Rapids. By the same token, we have no problem with pit bull owners and their dogs sitting down squarely in front of it, as long as it’s public property. They have the right to express themselves in public, too, whether they’re ArtPrize contestants or not.

So do we. And our opinion is Kowal is pushing her personal agenda under the guise of a non-profit organization’s art competition, and that it’s likely part of a well-plotted effort by those forces intent on painting all members of the breed with the same brush, reinforcing negative stereotypes while playing fast and loose with the facts.

Kowal says she plans to add three more crosses this weekend in remembrance of three other people who died from injuries she says were caused by pit bull attacks.

“That is not my fault that they were all killed by pit bulls,” she said. “I’m just showing the facts.”

Two “new” breeds will debut at Westminster

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What do the Hungarian wire-haired vizsla (below) and the coton de tulear (above) have in common?

At first glance, not a lot.

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The fuzzier version of a Vizsla is a mid-sized dog with what’s been called a “professorial” appearance, while the tiny coton de tulear is a fluffy French breed that resembles a Q-Tip on steroids

Both breeds, newly recognized by the American Kennel Club, will be competing for the first time when the Westminster Kennel Club holds its 139th annual dog show in New York in February.

“Coton is the French word for cotton and that’s what this dog looks like, a little bit of a cotton swab,” David Frei, the host and director of communications for the show, explained to NPR.

“It has got a long white coat, smallish dog; looks more like a toy dog than the non-sporting group that it’s in — fun little dog,” Frei added. “The royal dog of Madagascar, if you will, was exported through the Port of Tulear in Madagascar, ended up in France and other places in Europe before it came to this country and now it’s not really a new breed per se, but it’s new to us.”

Unlike their smooth-coated counterparts, the wirehaired vizsla has an inch-long, rust-colored coat that helps protect it while romping through the brush.

While best known for their hunting abilities, their fuzzy faces — with beards and moustaches and, if you will, Andy Rooney eyebrows — give them a distinguished appearance that belies their playfulness.

The two new additions brings the total number of breeds recognized by the American Kennel Club to 192..

(Photos: Vizsla photo from  Fassfields Hungarian Wirehaired Vizslas;  coton de tulear photo,  Nicaise, via Wamiz.com)


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